Vacancy: Artist in Residence to commemorate 40 years of life at ‘The Quarry’

Further details of the vacancy can be found on CAT’s vacancy page. The deadline for applications is 9am, 19th November.

CAT is now looking for two visual artists to work alongside staff to create artwork of lasting value that commemorates its 40-year history. The three-month residencies, sponsored by the Arts Council of Wales, will ask the two artists to spend time exploring an archive of historic material, including documents, photographs and a large oral history collection. The final piece will represent the past and point towards the future, as CAT explores new directions moving into the next phase of its history.

“In the early 1970s I took a sabbatical and went to America. I talked to senior business and professional people and came to the conclusion that a lot of people realised there was a major problem, but were locked into what they were doing. I came back thinking what was needed was a project to show the nature of the problem and to indicate ways of going forward”.

Gerard Morgan-Grenville CAT, Founder of CAT

CAT is based in a disused quarry in Mid-Wales, UK. It started as an experimental community with a handful of environmental pioneers in the winter of 1974 and has grown into a globally known educational institution. We want our Artists in Residence to work alongside staff to create work of lasting value that will inspire visitors, scholars and staff during and beyond the residency, based around the theme Voices from a Disused Quarry – a history of the Centre for Alternative Technology.

Early days at ‘The Quarry’

We imagine that these three month residencies will be an immersive experience as our resident artists explore themes of memory, sense of place, community, environmental quest and technical endeavor, embedded in an organization undergoing significant change, using messages from the past to explore visions for the future. There will be flexibility for the artists to agree a timetable that suits their practice and responds to the project expectation, following the induction period, and in conjunction with the host.

We have deliberately placed the residencies in a time period 40 years to the day when the first ‘settlers’ arrived at the disused quarry, to allow our Artists to sit within an appropriate historical ‘timescape’, which to our minds means landscape of the past. Signs of the old quarry are very much visible and we would like our artists to make full use of the atmosphere of the place to conceptualize and construct their work. We hope to make available two old quarry workers and community cottages as workshop spaces, to enable this process more fully.

An early wind turbine

We would also like our Artists to meet and engage with staff and visitors to explore the themes of memory and heritage and the communication of environmental ideas. To help in this process the resident artists will work alongside Residency Facilitator Ariana Jordao, Author and Oral History Curator Allan Shepherd and Archive Curator and coiner of the term ‘Alternative Technology’ Peter Harper. Both Allan and Peter have worked at the Centre for over two decades and will be a valuable resource for connecting with staff and enabling the Artists to access the material (in all senses of the word) they need to enrich this process.

Details of the vacancy can be found on the Centre’s vacancy page at http://content.cat.org.uk/index.php/vacancies. There is also an application form in Welsh.

Cymraeg

Saif Canolfan y Dechnoleg Amgen mewn hen chwarel yng nghanolbarth Cymru. Cymuned arbrofol â llond llaw o arloeswyr amgylcheddol oedd y Ganolfan ar y dechrau, yn ystod gaeaf 1974, ac mae wedi tyfu’n sefydliad addysgol sy’n adnabyddus ledled y byd erbyn hyn. Rydym am i’n hartistiaid preswyl weithio ochr yn ochr â’r staff i greu gwaith o werth parhaol, a fydd yn ysbrydoli ymwelwyr, ysgolheigion a staff yn ystod ac ar ôl y prosiect preswyl, ac a fydd yn seiliedig ar y thema Lleisiau hen chwarel – hanes Canolfan y Dechnoleg Amgen.

 

“Rydym wedi mynd ati’n fwriadol i osod y prosiectau preswyl mewn cyfnod sydd 40 mlynedd yn union ers i’r ‘ymsefydlwyr’ cyntaf gyrraedd yr hen chwarel. Rydym wedi gwneud hynny er mwyn galluogi ein hartistiaid i fod mewn tirwedd hanesyddol briodol o ran amser, sef tirwedd y gorffennol. Mae olion yr hen chwarel yn dal yn amlwg iawn, a hoffem pe bai ein hartistiaid yn manteisio i’r eithaf ar naws y lle wrth gysyniadoli a chreu eu gwaith.” Allan Shepherd

 

Artist residency programme at CAT to commemorate 40 years of life at ‘The Quarry’

English (scroll down for Welsh)

The Centre for Alternative Technology is now looking for two visual artists to work along side staff to create artwork of lasting value that commemorates its 40-year history. The three-month residencies, sponsored by the Arts Council of Wales, will ask the two artists to spend time exploring an archive of historic material, including documents, photographs and a large oral history collection. The final piece will represent the past and point towards the future, as CAT explores new directions moving into the next phase of its history.

CAT is based in a disused quarry in Mid-Wales, UK. It started as an experimental community with a handful of environmental pioneers in the winter of 1974 and has grown into a globally known educational institution. We want our Artists in Residence to work alongside staff to create work of lasting value that will inspire visitors, scholars and staff during and beyond the residency, based around the theme Voices from a Disused Quarry – a history of the Centre for Alternative Technology.

Residency Co-ordinator Allan Shepherd said “we have deliberately placed the residencies in a time period 40 years to the day when the first ‘settlers’ arrived at the disused quarry, to allow our Artists to sit within an appropriate historical ‘timescape’, which to our minds means landscape of the past. Signs of the old quarry are very much visible and we would like our artists to make full use of the atmosphere of the place to conceptualize and construct their work.”

Details of the vacancy can be found on the Centre’s vacancy page at http://content.cat.org.uk/index.php/vacancies.

Early days at ‘The Quarry’

Notes

  • The residency is sponsored by the Arts Council of Wales as part of a long-term residency programme between the Arts Council of Wales and CAT which seeks to explore environmental themes through art. CAT has already completed one residency with its Zero Carbon Britain project.
  • CAT will be celebrating its 40th anniversary over an 18 month period starting with an archive launch event at CAT and the National Library of Wales on the 2nd and 3rd of February 2014 respectively and finishing with an event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the opening of its Visitor Centre in the summer of 2015.
  • For more details of the residency programme, the archive or the oral history collection please contact allan.shepherd@cat.org.uk
  • The oral history collection contains over 90 interviews and 140 hours of material. It was enabled with grants from Powys based rural development agency Glasu and from a legacy provided by CAT founder Gerard Morgan-Grenville.

 

Cymraeg

Saif Canolfan y Dechnoleg Amgen mewn hen chwarel yng nghanolbarth Cymru. Cymuned arbrofol â llond llaw o arloeswyr amgylcheddol oedd y Ganolfan ar y dechrau, yn ystod gaeaf 1974, ac mae wedi tyfu’n sefydliad addysgol sy’n adnabyddus ledled y byd erbyn hyn. Rydym am i’n hartistiaid preswyl weithio ochr yn ochr â’r staff i greu gwaith o werth parhaol, a fydd yn ysbrydoli ymwelwyr, ysgolheigion a staff yn ystod ac ar ôl y prosiect preswyl, ac a fydd yn seiliedig ar y thema Lleisiau hen chwarel – hanes Canolfan y Dechnoleg Amgen.

“Rydym wedi mynd ati’n fwriadol i osod y prosiectau preswyl mewn cyfnod sydd 40 mlynedd yn union ers i’r ‘ymsefydlwyr’ cyntaf gyrraedd yr hen chwarel. Rydym wedi gwneud hynny er mwyn galluogi ein hartistiaid i fod mewn tirwedd hanesyddol briodol o ran amser, sef tirwedd y gorffennol. Mae olion yr hen chwarel yn dal yn amlwg iawn, a hoffem pe bai ein hartistiaid yn manteisio i’r eithaf ar naws y lle wrth gysyniadoli a chreu eu gwaith.” Allan Shepherd

 

Exhibition of Work by CAT’s Artist in Residence

“Nature in the twenty-first century will be a nature that we make” – Daniel B. Botkin

In 2012 Daniel May was CAT’s Artist in Residence, sponsored by Arts Council Wales. The work he created during his residency is currently on display as part of the visitor circuit. The project’s theme was motivated initially by the artificial shapes we now see all around us in-amongst the natural world. As Daniel explains:

“On arrival at the Centre for Alternative Technology what affected me most was the proximity of the outside world. The Centre promotes things like organic gardening, environmental awareness, self sufficiency and a do-it-yourself lifestyle, yet it is surrounded by intensive sheep farming and huge monoculture forestry. Big industry ploughs a new gas pipe right past the Centre’s entrance, the local roads are being widened and resurfaced, the air around us crackles with energy from overhead pylons. Every now and then, and especially on bright days, military jets roar past in training, always in pairs. I can’t help but think they have us in their sights and they remind me rudely of my insignificance. Even within the visitor centre great chunks of redundant machine parts litter the ground with false promises of salvation. They speak to me as ‘understand this and you will overcome’. Except in my case I never quite get it and break more than I fix trying. In retaliation to that blasted clever hydroelectric turbine I say hopefully, ‘that’s pretty’, but its response glares back metallic grey, sulking I think, in its functional redundipity.”

The exhibition outside the restaurant considers the idea of synthetic icons as being the nature of the future. In particular shapes such as pylons and buildings that stand out in our landscape are the only obvious parts of a now universally human managed and controlled world. What now is truly natural? Does human influence improve nature?

With this in mind Daniel chose to limit his sculptural method to the creative restrictions implied by a self-built wood-turning-lathe. This machine forces symmetry and engineered order onto the chaotic raw material of wood. In so doing does it perhaps improve the material’s natural appeal through added culture and value as apparent artefact? The object’s self-importance is made more so by being presented at head height or above. Yet its worth as both natural and man made thing (even as they both degrade), is ultimately just an object for us to contemplate, whilst remaining useful as a perch for a bird or a meal for a fungus.

Daniel’s sculptures will be on display until the end of the year. For more information about the processes Daniel used visit his website.

Arts Council of Wales Logo

 

ZCBlog: reflections on an Ecobuild seminar

If you attended Ecobuild last week (CAT’s review to follow), you know there were almost too many intriguing conferences and seminars to choose from. We didn’t manage to make it to ‘Is this the end of the road for zero carbon?’ but if anyone else did we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. (Our answer is a definite “Not if we can help it!”)

We did manage to get to the final conference of Ecobuild, though, and it was well worth the wait. In ‘Encouraging sustainability through art,’ psychologist Oliver James, The Idler founder Tom Hodgkinson, and artists Sophie Molins and Clare Patey discussed how art can help us overcome our addition to consumerism and work for a healthier planet. Of course, this fits right in with ZCB’s artist in residence project. In this week’s ZCBlog, we’ll talk about some of their arguments and projects we found most exciting.

Coming to terms with climate change

Host Oliver James got things off to a provocative start by calling Britain a society of “credit-fuelled consumer junkies,” but went on to describe how today’s climate challenge is for all of us to accept the facts, and then to tolerate the distress these facts cause us. He then outlined three psychological coping mechanisms, the first of which is denial: climate change isn’t happening, or if it is humans aren’t causing it. The second is maladaptive response, a category most of us fall into: to accept climate change but blunt the feelings of fear, grief, anger, panic and so on with a range of arguments. These include:

  • We’ll fix it through technology, like geoengineering
  • Live in the present, and ignore the scary future
  • Diversionary tactics, i.e. small behavioural changes (“if I recycle then I’m doing my bit”)
  • Blame shifting (“the US and China are the real culprits”)
  • Indifference
  • Unrealistic optimism

The third response, and the only one that leads to effective action, is adaptive coping: to accept climate change, go through the process of mourning, and transition to practical problem solving. The best way to encourage others to cope adaptively, James concludes, is to walk them through their fears gently, and ease them into considering new values.

Stop climate change by doing nothing

One of these new values might be idleness. Tom Hodgkinson spoke about how doing nothing – and thus travelling less, buying less, using less technology, etc. – can mean fewer carbon emissions. At the same time, he argued, we get our good ideas and do our creative thinking when we are at rest.  Setting aside time for this could be crucial to planning for sustainability.

He also offered the idea of permaculture as a model of the ideal lifestyle. Permaculture is an intelligent system that requires less input from the humans running it: minimum effort for maximum output. As we try to reduce energy use, we might turn to ecological solutions like permaculture to guide our thinking.

Is art the answer?

As we craft solutions to carbon emission reduction, should we turn to art to convert people to a particular way ofthinking? Sophie Molins is Art Co-ordinator at Artists Project Earth (APE), a non-profit that uses popular music to raise funds for climate change and social justice causes. Musicians in other countries make remixes of popular songs by artists as diverse as Eminem and Mumford & Sons, and profits from these tracks have funded over 330 projects to date.

While APE tries to raise awareness of our moral and spiritual obligations to stop climate change, Clare Patey’s site-specific work emphasises social engagement and bringing people together – and she is adamant that art should not be didactic. She helped design the Carbon Ration Book,

and organises Feast on the Bridge in London every year to get people involved in the process of food production, consumption and disposal. Another piece she created laid out all the food an average British person would eat in their lifetime, from the thousands of milk bottles drunk to the sheep eaten. Rather than presenting a finish product for people to view, Patey shows the huge transformative power of including people in the creative process.

Overall this conference touched on a whole host of issues about how we limit our emissions and respond to a changing climate. Should we create art, or seek therapy – or just sit at home and play cards? Perhaps we can do all three. Above all, this last conference at Ecobuild was an inspiring glimpse into the way creativity can turn even the of biggest challenges into an opportunity.

 

For your Zero Carbon news, check out the Spring 2013 ZCB Newsletter!

ZCBlog: Artist in residence

Hello! My name is Joanna Wright and I’m the artist in residence with Zero Carbon Britain for the next year.

I’ve been inspired by CAT since my first visit, over 10 years ago, and I’d firstly like to say thanks to CAT and the ZCB team for having me, to the Arts Council of Wales, who have made this residency possible and to Oriel Davies in Newtown, for their support.

We accept the way we live today as normal, but how did we get here, and where are we going?

The team at ZCB are an amazing and dedicated group. They are in the process of building a picture of what a future Britain can look like. How we’ll live, where our power will come from, what we’ll eat, how we’ll travel, and what we can do as society to affect positive change.

Research coordinator Alice has drawn it out in this diagram, it looks easy doesn’t it?

I hope that, in a small way, the work I do during the residency can make the work of the Zero Carbon Britain team more visible to a wider audience.

As an artist and documentary filmmaker much of my recent work uses existing archive material and oral history recordings. For part of my research for this residency I have started to look at how people in the past imagined the future

Through archive we have an opportunity to gain insight and reflection into where we stand in relation to the time that the original material was produced, and perhaps, where we might go from here.

You can see some postcards by artists from 19th century France imagining what the year 2000 would look like here. There’s an early forerunner of Skype in one of the pictures.

And there’s a link here to a film clip about petroleum products from the 1950’s here. (Warning, contains slight nudity!)

If you are coming to CAT then please feel free to come and visit me, I’d love to talk to you. Work in progress and research during the residency will be updated online at the Zero Carbon Archive.

You can contact me via email at joanna.wright@cat.org.uk , or follow on twitter @joanna_martine

The Great Outdoors 2012 at CAT: Connecting artists and audiences with the outdoors in Wales

Friendly Debate

Friendly DebateWe would like to congratulate everyone that took part in The Great Outdoors 2012 last week, which was organised by Articulture Wales. CAT was glad to play host to the event and it was great to see so many passionate people working together to promote Welsh art in the outdoors. No fewer than a hundred and thirty representatives took part in what was, without a doubt, a hugely successful conference.

WISEThe event was run by Articulture Wales, a local arts organisation in Machynlleth that promotes performance and puppetry, and included inspirational talks from creative practitioners of various arts, including John Fox from Welfare State International, John McGrath from National Theatre Wales and Ali Williams from No Fit State Circus. It was Wales’ first national conference for outdoor performance and artists from all areas of the UK gathered to discuss their ideas. Open discussion was encouraged in order to generate ambitious new outdoor performance projects. Everyone who attended had plenty to contribute and it showed in the debate that followed. There were also fantastic workshops and the day finished with an informal series of conversations between the delegates. It was great to see so much creativity in such an inspirational setting.

The BarEarlier this year CAT hosted the Emergence Summit, a major arts and sustainability event exploring how artists and scientists can work together to co-create the future. Part of the event was a five-day Land Journey across Wales, engaging participants with the outdoors and the beautiful, natural landscape of the Dyfi Valley. Although Emergence held a strong sustainability agenda, the Great Outdoors focused primarily on performance in the outdoors. However at CAT we feel that outdoor performance in itself engenders greater respect, awareness and care for the environment as it engages artists and the audience with landscapes and the environment. We believe that the arts and science can realise a shared goal of creating a more ecologically sound future rich with creative expression. This event was no exception. We are certain that everyone involved went away brimming with bold new ideas. CAT certainly did!

ConversationIf you have a project and are interested in exploring themes of sustainability and renewable energy in partnership with CAT, please get in touch with us: rosie.strickland@cat.org.uk

 

CAT and Volcano Theatre set to host major international arts and sustainability event this September.

From 1st – 9th September CAT will host Emergence Summit 2012: Creating the Future, a major international arts and sustainability event presented by VOLCANO THEATRE and the CENTRE FOR ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGY at CAT’s site in Machynlleth, mid-Wales.

The Summit comprises two parts: an international weekend conference of leaders, thinkers and visionaries; and a five-day Land Journey on foot through Wales culminating at the conference.

The Summit brings CAT’s pioneering work on low-carbon infrastructure together with Volcano Theatre’s work on developing the role of the arts as a crucible of ideas and visions for a sustainable society. Curated, designed and produced by Fern Smith (Volcano Theatre), Lucy Neal, Jenny MacKewn and Paul Allen (CAT), the Summit will explore, exemplify and embed the role of the arts in the transition to a sustainable future. Speakers, contributors and artist interventions include Robert Newman, Phakama UK, Sue Gill and John Fox, Simon Whitehead, Sarah Woods, Touchstone Collaborations, Pete Telfer (Culture Colony), Ansuman Biswas, Nick Capaldi (Arts Council Wales), Patricia Shaw, Miranda Tufnell and Paul Allen and Peter Harper from CAT.

‘This is a unique opportunity for individuals from all disciplines to converge and explore their vision for a sustainable future, escaping the dominant dystopian vision of our future, instead developing a positive, solution-focused and practically achievable vision for the transition to a more sustainable society’ Paul Allen, Centre for Alternative Technology

From 1st – 6th September over 30 delegates will attend the five-day Land Journey across Wales curated by Welsh artist Simon Whitehead. The Land Journey invites walkers to traverse the land in unfamiliar ways developing a deepened dialogue, concentration and reflection of the things we take for granted. Embedding sustainability into the personal and collective journeys of the Land Journey, artists and cuisinières Touchstone Collaborations will be providing locally and ethically sourced food, and the walk will be facilitated by Lucy Neal and Jenny MacKewn.

The Land Journey culminates at the conference. The Emergence conference Creating the Future will see 200 participants take part in a three day event of workshops, discussions, creative practice, performance and presentation between 7th – 9th September.

‘Taking the conceptual form of a sine wave, the conference aims to not only discuss and debate change, but becomes a vehicle for change itself. Participants are invited to take a journey individually and together with other participants to explore our collective issues and find solutions to emerge into a new way of being, doing and making.’ Fern Smith, Volcano Theatre

The Summit will be documented by Pete Telfer of Culture Colony and streamed through the BBC and Arts Council collaborative project ‘the Space’.

Registration for Emergence opens to the public on Monday 23rd July. Individuals can register via the Emergence website. www.cat.org.uk/emergence-2012.

 

CAT’s artists in residence explain a couple of their works

 

This past week has seen CAT’s artists in residence, Mair Hughes and Bridget Kennedy, exhibit Scientific Stranger in WISE. Part of a larger project entitled Utopian Realism, which will see the pair develop and exhibit work exploring radical experiments which have happened in rural places. The exhibition at CAT has been a success, with the artists engaged in long, considered conversations with people who have visited. The artists talked me through a couple of the works they are currently showing at CAT.

Geological Etiquette, Mair Hughes

The main image is of the Victorian lecture theater at the Newcastle Mining Institute; a gallery of the portraits of former presidents of the institute decorate the walls. Today the Institute is home to a library and an archive, which Bridget and Mair have combed during their research for the project.

Bridget and Mair unearthed a prose-poem entitled ‘King Coal’s Levee’ in the library. The poem personifies all the metals, characterizing coal as the King, lording it over all the others. It’s telling symbolism, revealing the import of coal in early industrial society, and the reverence in which it was held.

The work presents a ceremonial farewell to the symbolism coal has held in the past. The mirrored image creates a void in the centre of the work, which could be a disappearing point for the coal.

Mair was interested in exhibiting the collage in the WISE lecture theatre, as it provides an interesting parallel to the lecture theatre depicted in the work.

 

 

 

Crystal Systems, by Bridget Kennedy

A sculptural work combining digital media with a ‘spa box’ – a box made by miners in Victorian times featuring minerals found in the mines displayed as kind of subterranean landscape.

The animation which plays on a DVD screen inside the box was created from a text of Robert Owen’s. Bridget took Owen’s ‘Arrangements for Population’, a town planning manifesto, and allocated each letter in the text a height and colour. The text then becomes an animated structure, which resembles a crystal formation.

Placing the animation inside the spa box forms a nice juxtaposition with the more ‘low tech’ craft of spa box making. The end result creates something oddly similar to a TV – which is significant as the original spa boxes would have had a similar position in the domestic environment of the miners who made them.

A voice over reads a combination of writing Bridget found interesting during her research for the project, which has been spliced together to create something which doesn’t immediately make sense, though sounds as though it does. The end result is an ambiguous set of rules for design, or for living.

Thursday podcast: interview with Mair Hughes and Bridget Kennedy, artists in residence

Bridget Kennedy and Mair Hughes are CAT’s first artists in residence. This week, their exhibition Scientific Stranger is on in the WISE lecture theatre. Part of Powys Art Month, their project Utopian Realism has seen them research ecology, geology, phrenology, futurology, and the legacy of communitarian and founder of the co-operative movement Robert Owen.

In this interview, they discuss what they’ve found interesting about CAT, and what has been inspirational about working and exhibiting here. They also talk about the themes they have been exploring in their work and the role of artists in the environmental movement.

For more information about the artists, their work and their project, check out their blog.

You can stream the podcast here or

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